This post originally appeared on Eric Jacobson’s Blog in August. The link can be found by clicking here. Eric and I met in 2009, when we worked together virtually for MicroMentor – Eric in Kansas, and me in California. Since then, Eric has appeared on my Blog four times as a featured guest and countless times with memorable quotes. Eric has more than a quarter-century of experience in both leadership and product development, and I’m honored that he asked me to share my perspective on this important branding and social media topic.
|Image Credit: Twitter.|
There is no denying that social media has changed how brands communicate. All aspects of business have been affected from technology to human resources to marketing. Even more important, all employees have become their own personal brands – some even major influencers – with their own fans and followers. Therefore, in today’s social climate, who owns a brand’s messaging?
Employees can post content to damage an employer’s brand, and customers can post content to damage a brand. This has dramatically changed how brands interact with and respond to their customers, prospective customers, fans, media, and other stakeholders.
So, while many of your employees may understand social media, does your brand understand its nuances? How well does your brand navigate among the myriad of social platforms? How do you choose which platforms to allocate time and money? Do you know where the majority of your audiences congregate? And most importantly, do your stakeholders engage with YOU on social media?
While you may have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, if you’re not posting regularly and conversing with fans and followers, you’re wasting your time. So, in order for your brand to survive for the long haul in today’s social climate, here are five tips.
 BE TRANSPARENT
If you’re launching a new product or service, make an announcement and let your customers and fans know. If there is a delay, be up front and also make that announcement. If there is a problem, make that announcement. Don’t wait for a member of the media or, even worse, the competition to discover the delay or problem. Their announcement will not be kind. Own the news – that way, you craft your brand messaging and narrative.
 BE CONSISTENT
Maintain a consistent name for all social media platforms. If a brand name is not available, use a familiar tagline. If “Nike” had been unavailable, the company could have used “JustDoIt,” and everyone would immediately have recognized that any account with that name belonged to Nike. With all the social sites available to your brand, take time to conduct a social media audit and re-evaluate the names of all your accounts.
 USE #HASHTAGS
Create and use hashtags with your brand name, your company name, key employees if they are industry influencers, and more. And use these hashtags on all your social platforms. You may even use them on traditional marketing collateral, such as, business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc. Hashtags are a way to stand out and introduce your brand to more audiences. Currently on Instagram, you’re able to add 30 hashtags to a single post.
 INVITE FEEDBACK
If you only want certain feedback, otherwise known as five stars, don’t ask for it. Some customers will be long-winded, others will be positive, and some will be negative. To quote Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” So, as with the rest of your social media strategy, which must be aligned with your overall annual marketing plan, have a feedback plan. Instead of drafting a simple survey, think of why questions and responses would benefit your leadership team. In addition, you may decide to use a number of customer satisfaction tools to gauge customer loyalty, company health, or brand health (for example, Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Score, or Customer Lifetime Value) – if you do, understand the value they can provide.
 LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN
Set up alerts for your brand, company name, industry, and more. This will let you know when others are talking about your brand or brands and allow you to chime in when appropriate. You will also be quickly informed if someone says something negative or untrue about your brand so you can comment or chose to remain silent. You may also wish to set up alerts about your competition and key influencers in your industry. The sites to use are Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts) and Talkwalker (https://www.talkwalker.com/alerts).
There are a few important things to remember in social media. First, there are so many Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, etc., that the likelihood of one of your posts going viral is slim-to-none. But then again, you never know. With that in mind, second, make sure that whatever you post would not embarrass your brand. There are too many stories about brands losing spokespeople and market share due to a single tweet. And third, keep in mind that once content has been posted, it will assume a life of its own. You never know who might see it.
In 2009, soon after I joined Twitter, I shared a blog post, and shortly thereafter, Maxine Clark, Founder and then-President of Build-A-Bear, retweeted my tweet. We corresponded a bit on Twitter and then via email, and soon afterward, we spoke about branding, marketing, and plush animals by phone – truly, a Twitter success story!
Lastly, memorize my favorite tweet from customer experience expert Vala Afshar and practice it every day. If you do, your brand will be a memorable social media survivor!
TWEET THIS: Don't do social, be SOCIAL: Sincere, Open, Collaborative, Interested, Authentic and Likeable. –@ValaAfshar
For more about Instagram hashtags:
For more about NPS:
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